[SystemSafety] New safety standards recommended after Lac-Mégantic accident

From: Bruce Partridge < >
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2014 14:00:45 +0000

 Canada, U.S. make united demand for 3 key rail safety improvements

Minister has 90 days to respond; Recommended: New standards for cars, better planning of shipping routes

By MIKE DE SOUZA, Postmedia News January 24, 2014 7:04 AM

[Canada, U.S. make united demand for 3 key rail safety improvements]

An employee of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway works in the company's yards in Farnham on Tuesday, August 13, 2013. Photograph by: Justin Tang , The Gazette Six months after the deadly Lac-Mégantic train disaster, investigators say the initial steps taken by the federal government have failed to eliminate the risk of similar accidents involving dangerous cargo. Officials from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada delivered this warning as they jointly issued "critical" safety recommendations, in partnership with its U.S. counterpart, the National Transportation Safety Board. The advice calls for drastic improvements or the replacement of risky tank cars, as well as new requirements for industry analysis of existing routes and emergency planning. The three areas, if addressed by the government, would likely increase the cost of shipping oil either for producers and refiners, or for taxpayers. Investigators said the Canadian government has taken a step in the right direction with some of its recent proposals to strengthen rail safety rules, but that it must do more and work faster to address the risks. By law, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has 90 days to formally respond to Thursday's recommendations. What is the problem?
The Canadian and U.S. transportation safety agencies say the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and other recent derailments involving crude oil are directly linked to exponential growth in oil shipments over the past five years. Quoting statistics from Canada's railway companies, the Canadian board says crude oil shipments by train have grown from 500 car loads in 2009 to 160,000 car loads in 2013. In the United States, the shipments have grown from 10,800 car loads to 400,000 car loads over the same time period. The agencies have said safety standards surrounding railway transportation, including the vulnerability of commonly used DOT -111 tank cars, and poor planning by industry are "critical weaknesses" in need of urgent action. What are the recommendations?

Recommendation 1: Tougher safety standards for DOT -111 tank cars to prevent ruptures or other damage-causing releases when accidents occur.
Recommendation 2: Strategic planning of shipping routes that look at the environment and communities surrounding train tracks and address dangerous risks.
Recommendation 3: Improved emergency response and assistance plans along the routes with high volumes of oil or other flammable cargo.
What are people saying?
Transportation Safety Board of Canada chairwoman Wendy Tadros: "These older cars, like the ones we saw in Lac-Mégantic, they simply do not hold up in an accident. We know it can't be done tomorrow, but the longer they are in the system, the longer that risk will be in the system. So we think they need to be phased out sooner rather than later." Railway Association of Canada president Michael Bourque: "In addition to ongoing industry efforts, the TS B's recommendations will advance the safe handling of goods that are essential to Canadians and Canada's economy." Transport Minister Lisa Raitt: "Transport Canada officials are reviewing the Transportation Safety Board's recommendations. The department is committed to doing all it can to maintain and enhance the safety of Canada's rail sector." Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Claude Dauphin: "The recommendations released by the Transportation Safety Board underscore the need for urgent action by the railway industry and the federal government to ensure the safe movement of dangerous goods by rail." What do we know about the Lac-Mégantic accident? The Lac-Mégantic accident on July 5, left 47 people dead, and released nearly six million litres of crude oil into the environment out of about 6.7 million litres on board the train. According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the crude oil that didn't burn contaminated the downtown soil, with some of it reaching two rivers and Lac Mégantic. The train was carrying one boxcar and 72 DOT -111 tank cars carrying crude oil. The boxcar and 63 of the tank cars derailed, and 60 of those tank cars were punctured or damaged as the runaway train, left unattended overnight, rolled toward the community and crashed into its downtown buildings in a fiery explosion. The federal government is studying potential legal action against the railway operator, the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway. © Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Bruce Partridge

SHEARWATER RESEARCH INC.<http://www.shearwaterresearch.com/> Tel: 604-669-9958 | Fax: 604-681-4982

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